UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean utters the R-word – one faux pas too many

Posted on September 28, 2017, 9:31 pm
5 mins

PHOTOS: Mr. Jean as he likely appeared yesterday afternoon, perhaps as the obvious impact of his foolish use of words sank in. (Photo: CBC) Below: Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and St. Albert NDP MLA Marie Renaud.

It sure sounds like Brian Jean is done. You know, like dinner.

Done in by the R-word, as a matter of fact. … Right out of his own mouth.

In the west central Alberta town of Drayton Valley on Wednesday to squeeze out a few more votes for his already flagging campaign to lead the United Conservative Party, the former Wildrose Party leader took a lame shot at Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard’s objection to the 220-per-cent tariff imposed by the United States on Bombardier aircraft.

Mr. Couillard had called the sanction – I mean, the tariff – an attack against Quebec and Canada, a characterization that sounds like a pretty reasonable thing to say to most Canadians.

But in rural Alberta, a certain amount of Quebec-bashing is always a temptation to conservative politicians with nothing particularly useful to say.

Speaking to local reporters, Mr. Jean – apparently imagining that the Quebec premier’s first obligation should be to Alberta, not to his own voters – started whinging about Mr. Couillard’s lack of enthusiasm for a pipeline through Quebec that Alberta governments, no matter who leads them, apparently still imagine will immediately make our bitumen, bedevilled by low world oil prices, more profitable.

Mr. Jean huffed: “This is a guy now asking for national unity? National unity while they stop our pipelines from going through because they don’t believe in Energy East! They would rather support a dictator and his abusive system to the people that he controls, rather than good, clean Alberta energy. It’s ridiculous and retarded.”

That was the moment the bitumen hit the fan.

“Using the R word is wrong. I thought you knew that. That word has harmed real people for too long. Be better.” So Tweeted Marie Renaud, St. Albert’s fearless NDP MLA. Hers was one of a storm of such comments of various social media platforms.

Later, Mr. Jean’s supporters complained a little about “political correctness,” of course, but it didn’t sound like their hearts were in it. The man who once joked about beating Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in a way that made it sound as if he was joking about violence against women had put his foot in his big mouth one time too many.

Mr. Jean eventually apologized, also by Tweet, but by the time he did, it was, as they say, a day late and a dollar short.

“I apologize for my regretful word choice but not for standing up forcefully for Albertans against QC politicians,” he grumbled.

Ms. Renaud reminded him: “Best not to use a ‘but’ when apologizing.”

Mr. Jean isn’t finished because he used the R-word, though, sad to say. He’s finished because UCP members are starting to realize the man can’t control his own mouth. Stupid things come out of it.

He apologized about the beating joke, too, and people mostly forgave him that time. But this was one faux pas too many.

If there was any hope of Mr. Jean avoiding being crushed by Jason Kenney’s juggernaut, it is all but gone now. He might as well retire with whatever dignity he has left to the family car wash in Fort McMurray.

Ignored in the entire brouhaha, unfortunately, was the deceptive and preposterous position Mr. Jean was taking on what he sometimes calls “dictator oil,” as if the UCP had plans to nationalize the oil industry or somehow force private oil companies to buy their oil from Alberta. Well, good luck with that, Mr. Free Enterpriser!

Making up outlandish fantasies about forcing the rest of Canada to buy Alberta oil or renegotiate the country’s constitutional equalization system has become a pattern with UCP leadership candidates.

And remember, the current equalization formula was enacted in 2007 when both Mr. Jean and Mr. Kenney were government MPs in Ottawa. Chances are pretty good, don’t you think, that they both remember how it works?

7 Comments to: UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean utters the R-word – one faux pas too many

  1. tom in ontario

    September 28th, 2017

    “He might as well retire with whatever dignity he has left to the family car wash in Fort McMurray.”

    Good advice for Sideshow Brian. When he gets there he should power wash his mouth with high quality soap.

    Reply
    • Kristi

      September 29th, 2017

      Haha, this one made me laugh!

      Reply
  2. September 29th, 2017

    What could come to mind here, is “populism.” There could be the danger of this sort of ‘talk’ from Jean appealing to the alt-right ‘common man base,’ as is happening with Trump’s ‘gutter-talk’ in the USA with impunity…..except he does have ever dropping popularity ratings.
    And yes, agreed, there is the problem with Kenney’s talk re: equalization and the oil and gas industry.
    Here is another good read, and explanation, on these topics:
    “Jason Kenney’s Populist Snake Oil. In bid to run Alberta’s Conservatives, ex-MP is promising the impossible on pipelines, equalization.”
    http://www.thetyee.ca/Opinion/2017/09/27/Jason-Kenney-Snake-Oil/
    The UCP will not get my vote…..the financial mismanagement of their past colleagues over 40+ years was more than enough for me, an Alberta-born Albertan. I would not expect any difference from them now, nor would I fall for their horse pucky’populist’ talk.

    Reply
  3. J.E. Molnar

    September 29th, 2017

    The collateral damage of Brian Jean’s vile comment is that it continues to give license to his red meat base to continue to follow his example of virulent commentary, much like he did when he jokingly threatened to beat Rachel Notley.

    Brian Jean has continually put his stamp of approval on intolerable public discourse, insincere apologies notwithstanding. Using a slur offensive to the disabled — what a class guy.

    If he should lose the UCP leadership race he should spare his party any further embarrassment and step down. One Derek Fildebrandt (likely to be readmitted) in caucus is enough.

    Reply
  4. David

    September 29th, 2017

    I wonder if this gaffe by Jean was a deliberate fumble. I suspect the conservative elite have made it quite clear to Jean that they want Kenney to be leader and while they don’t mind a somewhat close race, they don’t it too close in case it unexpectedly upsets their plans.

    Not only is the comment offensive in its wording, but his bigger argument is also incorrect. While Quebec’s Premier was not as enthusiastic about the energy east pipeline as the Premiers of Ontario or New Brunswick, he was not strongly opposed either. It was another Quebecker, the Mayor of Montreal, who was more outspoken in opposition. So not only has Jean made an offensive comment, but he has attacked the wrong person. I suppose that “they are all agin us” approach might work well with some in the countryside that do not follow national affairs that much, but I am not sure if more urban Albertans will buy it.

    Perhaps Jean was just trying to out do Kenney – who seems to want to blockade the Alberta border. However, the wily career politician Kenney who is a former federal cabinet minister, is careful enough in his choice of words to not say anything too offensive about other Premiers. He just leaves it to his supporters to fill in those blanks however they want.

    While Jean potentially has a broader appeal than the more rigidly ideological and social conservative Kenney, he has much to learn about conservative messaging. It may be difficult for him to catch up to Kenney, who has years more of experience at it, in this area.

    This is probably one of the reasons why Jean will eventually end up back at the car wash in Fort McMurray, while Kenney will go on to become leader of the UCP.

    Reply
  5. brett

    October 1st, 2017

    No surprise. He was simply working the crowd. Saying different things to different groups throughout the Province. Taking a page from Jason Kenney’s playbook no doubt.

    Alberta has changed. We are no longer a bunch of hillbillies like the Conservatives treated us in their last election campaign…much to their collective chagrin.

    It seems to me that they need even more time in the penalty box if this is how they really feel and what they really believe.

    Reply

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